Watching Vikram Patel talk about how suicide is one of the leading causes of death in young people all over the world, in this TED blog post (the picture is not a link), I couldn’t help but think of chocolate.

TED BlogYummy anandamide containing, and retaining, chocolate.

Found in raw chocolate (or cacao), this chemical is important if our brains are to generate motivation and pleasure.

Like I needed to know all that. Chocolate perks me up, picks me up (that would be the theobromine – with a quarter the stimulating power of caffeine, without any of the caffeine) and makes me believe over and over again that life is worth the living after all.

I won’t even get into the monthly cravings; mostly because the scientific research to back that is still being conducted, and contributed to, by like-minded individuals dedicated to furthering the development of scientific knowledge in the foodie community. Which just means friends who are OK answering me honestly when I ask about their sex lives, menstrual cycles and how they feel about chocolate in relation to the two.

Last Friday, my two housemates and I, upon realizing how boring and bored we had become, vibrant twenty-somethings we ought to be, decided to invite a few close friends over – like one friend each – to share a cheap bottle of red wine and hold a Speech Night. Each of us had to make a speech of any length about anything, and really it was more like chairing a debate than giving a speech, the way this audience interjected.

The conversations arguments got loud, in particular the issues of personality, philosophy and responsibility roused sweat and yelling. Some said we’re Ugandan, we can’t help it if we feel obligated to look after members of our extended families, especially when one of them dies, that’s the way we were raised.

Others called it “imagined responsibility,” calling unreal our feelings of familial duty.

And we all concluded that if we did not know that there was another way, of post-modern individualism and relative do-what-makes-you-happy subjectivity, then we would not feel so guilty. Dead relatives would not weigh us down with their kids to pay school fees for, or funeral costs at their homes to also otherwise maintain (with money), because we would be free from the burden of belief.

We would not have to believe in order to do; believing it is bad, and unnecessary, and wrong, for your second cousin’s two little kids to go into any sort of care system, to be looked after by strangers. That your selfish pursuit of your own happyness is ok, even worthy and noble, no matter how you air the dirty laundry – and/or dump the weights – which result from your family ties.

But because we have to believe, we have so much to believe, I woke up the morning after Speech Night to brew languorous pot after

Mint Chocolate Cupcake

Chunky Mint Chocolate Cupcake with Mint Buttercream Frosting

pot of Arabica coffee grown on the slopes of Mt. Elgon (more on this in the coffee brands post), and to order us a dozen mint-chocolate cupcakes from Crem de la Crem (our friend who makes and delivers home baked goods using her own jarred extracts, essences and flavorings, having moved back home after grad school and a corporate stint in the London business world).

And that afternoon; while my housemates went off to the traditional marriage ceremony of an old friend of their’s from high-school who they haven’t seen in years and didn’t even know was dating let alone getting married, I sat in bed reading and munching, holding my t shirt out each time I got up to safely transport the cupcake crumbs to my little plastic waste paper basket.